Keep Instructional Materials Current

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases High Quality item, “Instructional materials are current, best representing the discipline and reflecting current trends.”

As an expert in the discipline, you are in the best position to determine if the instructional materials being used in a course best reflect the discipline and current trends. This includes both seminal content as well as the latest findings from the literature.

What are Some Ways your Online Course can be Designed to Meet this Standard?

Before the semester starts:

  • Review the instructional materials being used in the course. Materials include textbooks, journal articles, websites, videos, your notes, and anything else that the student uses to learn.
  • For each material, think about when the material was created. If older than three years, consider looking for alternatives to see if there are more current materials. This is especially true when the content has to do with research or technology.
  • Consult with other experts, such as your peers or subject librarian, about the materials that are available for adoption.
  • The Internet has an enormous amount of content, some of it peer-reviewed and openly licensed. For instance, OpenStax offers free peer-reviewed textbooks for most subjects, and the textbooks are regularly updated. In addition, UCF has an open resource library offered through the Pressbooks platform.

What Does This Look like in a Real Online Course?

Example 1. Stacy Barber, Anthropology

In order to select instructional content before the semester begins, Dr. Barber first starts at the scholarly literature and then works backwards to find more approachable readings, podcasts, and films. A lot of archaeology content is featured in high quality shows like NOVA or BBC specials, so she links to those resources when available. She says, “When a big new study is released, there are often accompanying pieces in the popular press that I can add to give students really well designed and produced content way beyond anything I could make!” If she cannot find something that has already been produced based on recent scholarly work, then she will produce lectures that are written to better accommodate the audience of emerging learners.

Example 2: Kathy Hohenleitner, English

Dr. Hohenleitner published The Anthology of World Literature 1650-Present, which was created using the Pressbooks platform. It is openly licensed, meaning users are free to read, adopt, and share the content in it. Because of the platform, it is also editable. The texts are in chronological order, but can be adapted by the teacher in whatever way they see fit. Recent works from UCF faculty are included. Adding a new work is as easy as a few clicks.

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